I find that one of the most important aspects in the ever schismatic christianities is the enigmatic 'new covenant'.
For the moment disregarding the formal circumstances around it (Paulus' character and authenticity as middleman and the feed-back effect to OT
Jahveh), it's seldom used for anyhting except as a doctrinal argument. The actual meaning and content seem to be of secondary importance, while it
actually lies at the root of the christianities' present plight.
Starting with the quibblings in the very early christianity, it's obvious that a main issue was the relationship between deed and doctrine. I hope,
it's not necessary to go into an analysis of that, bringing us too far out.
In the original issue-confrontation, deed and doctrine can be subdivided once more.
Deed into following OT law OR unconditional 'practical' love.
Doctrine into redemption (with a subclause of missioning) OR an all-loving and all-forgiving divinity without pricetags.
(There are other issues also, but that's beside the point now).
The redemption version, spurred by missionary zeal, has become the most outwards known part of the christianities, and my impression from almost a
year on ATS is, that this kind of christianity basically is navel-gazing and very egotistically motivated. Sure, there's a lot of talk about loving
this and loving that, but it's clear for me, that this is lipservice, sometimes you can almost hear the clenched teeth.
The important thing for them is to get a reservation in heaven.
And I believe, that contemporary mankind is beginning to see this sanctimonious spiel for what it is. Competition from more gentle religions or from
science naturally starts comparisons in peoples' minds.
Finally getting around to thread topic, I believe, that a major factor in the decline of christianity is this more and more apparant hypocracy in it.
The are more weird ideologies on the market (even science can be very SF-like these days), there are also more violent ideologies (in this period),
but the falseness of missionary redemption christianity probably creates a feeling of repugnance in the modern 'seeker of truth and reality'. Like a
corrupt politician or a salesman of excessively secondhanded cars would do.
I have come to expect that several layers of rhetoric, getting lost in bible-verses, angels on a pin and sometimes outright fabulations must be peeled
away, before communication with such christians are possible at all (seldom happens).
The missionary redemption christians still live in the past, and has too late seen the changes (hence all the PR scandals none of them saw coming),
and when confronted with this new challenge they react very primitively. Intensifying the already overdone doctrinal rhetoric, inventing
pseudo-science arguments, being the slighted martyrs unused to opposition or OT angrily self-righteous aggressive (some of the really below-the-belt
posts are from that type).
And still they don't learn. The confrontation is just intensifying into a negative spiral.
There must be fundies reading this, maybe frothing, maybe with a beginning of understanding. These guys in UK, public persons with experience of
'meeting the masses', saw that no amount of cosmetics could remove the basically ego-tripping aspects of 'ticket-to-heaven' mindsets. So they decided
to lay low.
A few of our former agitators here have also done it. And presto, some communication can take place, without missionaries starting to think of blowing
up the world, and harmless reductionist scientist aren't satan's imps anymore.
Everybody's happy, except for the few die-hards who would rather nuke everything to kingdom come just to be right.
edit on 20-1-2011 by bogomil